Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Connect the Dots: Women’s Time is Now

Monday, January 29th, 2018

By Bob Gaydos

Women marched across the nation this month.

Women marched across the nation this month.

I’m big on connecting the dots. A plus B plus C … sometimes it adds up to D. Or in this case, W, as in Women. Here they come, politically. And long overdue.

In this case, making the connections wasn’t too difficult, unless you happen to be someone — a Republican, for example — who is genetically incapable of recognizing the gross disparities, unfairness and outright abuse that continue to confront women in America decades after an Equal Rights Amendment was proposed by Congress and failed to get the required number of states to approve it.

That’s a dot still to be connected, but there are plenty of others falling into place, suggesting a new era is about to burst the male-dominated political/economic bubble that has encased America for, well, ever.

The dots as I see them, in no particular order:

  • The Harvey Weinstein sex abuse scandal that rocked Hollywood, wrecking careers of powerful men throughout the industry.
  • The #metoo movement that grew out of the scandal as women in all fields, from TV to Silicon Valley to sports, found the courage to tell their stories of sexual exploitation by men in a position of power.
  • Many of those men losing their jobs as a result.
  • The Women’s Marches that began last year to protest the election of the misogynist-in-chief and grew this year as millions of women (and men) marched across the country to demand equality for women in the workplace, in politics, in the board room, in society.
  • Oprah Winfrey delivering a stirring speech as she accepted an award at the Golden Globes Awards, leading to a social media storm urging her to run for president. (Please, no, we’ve tried the really rich person used to giving orders with no government experience thing. But please do support candidates who agree with you, O. Generously.)
  • Gretchen Carlson, a former Miss America and former Fox News anchor who won a multi-million-dollar sexual harassment settlement from the network, being named chair of the Miss America pageant board of directors after the male bosses were shown to be mini-Trumps. Former contestants were also added to the board, which was previously all-male.
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, urging Democratic Sen. Al Franken to resign over sexual groping charges, saying Bill Clinton should have stepped down as president because of his sex scandals and urging Donald Trump to resign as president over sexual assault charges from a score of women.
  • Trump attacking Gillibrand with sexual innuendo on Twitter and unleashing a powerful backlash.
  • The doctor for the U.S. Olympics gymnastic team being sentenced, in effect, to the rest of his life in prison for abusing dozens of female athletes under his medical care for years. The athletes were given all the time they wanted in court by the female judge to tell their stories before the sentencing.
  • Women of color turning out en masse at the polls in Alabama to defeat a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate who, as a district attorney stalked teen-aged girls at malls. The candidate, Roy Moore, had the support of Trump and the Republican Party. The Democrat won.
  • A record number of women, mostly Democrats, running for political office this year at the local, state and national levels.
  • Time Magazine choosing “The SILENCE BREAKERS,” the women who came forward with their stories of sexual harassment and assault, launching the #metoo movement, as “Persons of the Year.”
  • Hillary Clinton running for president, getting nearly 3 million more votes than Trump, and losing anyway because (1) the Russians interfered with the campaign, (2) Republicans didn’t care and still don’t and (3) she apparently rubbed a lot of women the wrong way.
  • Gillibrand, Sen. Kamala Harris of California and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii joining Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Connecticut as leading voices in the Democratic Party and speaking eloquently about economic equality, health care, gun violence, family leave, veterans, the homeless, abortion, immigration, jobs, the drug crisis — all for the most part ignored by Republicans.
  • Steve Wynn, financial chairman of the Republican National Committee, being forced to resign his position over numerous charges of sexual harassment and abuse of women over the years. The wealthy casino magnate is a major financial supporter of Trump and other Republicans.
  • Congress rewriting the rules (such as they were) for dealing with members accused of sexual harassment. Secret non-disclosure agreements are probably not going to be the norm anymore.
  • Female registered voters outnumbering male registered voters in the United States. They are also more likely to vote than men.

These are the dots. There are plenty more, but you get the idea. This is not simply a revolution about sexual predation — or an attitude of male sexual privilege, if you will. As I see it, it is an awakening, a moment of clarity, a realization that what was does not have to continue to be. Cannot be, in fact. Republicans are mostly clueless to the moment. Democrats ignore it to their continued ineffectuality at the polls.

You want another dot to connect? How about First Lady Melania Trump canceling out at the last moment on the trip to Davos with Donald? No standing stoically by her man. Someone said she sent him a private tweet: Dear POTUS, not going to Davos. Why don’t you see if Stormy Daniels is free for the weekend? Well, not free, but, you know, affordable.

Connect the dots.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

This ‘Campaign’ is No Laughing Matter

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

By Bob Gaydos

“You want to go see ‘The Campaign’?”

The caller was my 18-year-old, about-to-leave-for-college son, Zack. So I immediately said yes. These impromptu calls have become too infrequent lately. Zack, of course, loves anything Will Ferrell does. I think he’s a talented actor who constantly takes the easy path to the cheapest joke, the filthier the better, playing dumb to reach the lowest common denominator in his audience — teenaged boys. A classic underachiever. But I thought, what the heck, it’s timely. Maybe he’ll score some political points and I’ll get a few laughs.

Both things happened, but I came away from the movie with a strange sense of sadness. Ferrell did not disappoint. The jokes were crude, sexual and occasionally hilarious. But some of the best ones had been promoted for weeks on TV. (Why do they feel a need to do that?) Mostly, though, on leaving the theater, I realized that I had stopped laughing at some point because the heavy-handed attempt at satire was simply too close to the truth and this movie wasn’t going to change things one iota.

For one thing, teenaged boys don’t vote. For another, the country really is full of the kind fickle, dumb voters portrayed in the movie — people who swear their political allegiance based on phony image, phony religion phony patriotism, phony family values — and switch it just as easily based on phony claims spread with the money of very real filthy rich people who feel they are a country unto themselves, free to do as they please to whomever they please, so long as they can afford it.

And so Ferrell gives us the Motch Brothers, in the bloated persons of Dan Akroyd and John Lithgow. They decide to grab control of a North Carolina congressional district by bankrolling the ineffectual, clueless Zach Galifianakis to run against the incumbent, the philandering, dumb Ferrell. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, slim as it is. Suffice to say, the movie stereotypes of the real-life Koch brothers are ruthless to the core, using their wealth to try to buy a congressional district, and not caring which candidate can deliver that prize. Where’s the humor there? Like the dumb voters stereotyped, that’s the plain truth.

The movie candidates do and say stupid stuff until the end, which is all Hollywood happy, but not convincing. But the real-life candidates in this country do and say dumb stuff all the time, with no Hollywood ending. (Will the would-be senator from Missouri please shut his mouth and go home?) In Texas and Arizona they routinely get elected. The movie presents cardboard characters who could probably run and win somewhere real in America. That’s why the stereotypes, while comically exaggerated, also seem so familiar. We know these buffoons, these liars, these phonies. We vote for them (well, I don’t). We send them back to office because they tell us some cock and bull story and we never bother to call them on it. And if someone does pull their covers, we ignore it. It’s like a whole country addicted to BS. It makes us feel so good, if we hold our noses.

I guess I should have realized that Will Ferrell isn’t sophisticated enough to deliver the kind of satire needed to get people off the political BS crack pipe and I shouldn’t expect him to. And I have little faith in today’s traditional news media. I think more and more that the Internet and social media – also hugely popular with teenaged boys — represent the best hope for getting Americans, at least enough Americans, to recognize what is going on with our political system and make them want to change it.

Yes, there are a lot of liars and buffoons on the Internet, too, but they are being called out and drowned out regularly by voices of logic and reason and compassion. Young voices and old voices and middle aged voices. People who are sick and tired of the BS in American politics, much too sick and tired to think it’s funny anymore. (Did you hear what that idiot in Tennessee said about spreading AIDS?) Maybe Woody Allen could make it a laughing matter: Pass the popcorn. Woody really nailed these guys. But he only makes one movie a year and I can’t wait.

Yes, I realize I’ve been talking about myself here. I never used crack, but I’ve ingested enough political BS to last several lifetimes. Sorry, Will Ferrell, you’ll probably make millions trading on people‘s ignorance (much like the Motch brothers), but politics in America long ago ceased to be a laughing matter. It’s more like a cruel joke.

PS: But hey, Zack, don’t hesitate to call if you want to catch another movie. My treat.

bob@zestoforange.com

Good Policy Can Also be Good Politics

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Barack Obama: A humane move on immigration.

By Bob Gaydos

Maybe Barack Obama is finally figuring it out. You can only negotiate, compromise and reason with people who are willing to negotiate, compromise and reason. In other words, apparently no one with the authority to speak for the Republican Party.

Having committed itself on Day One of his presidency to a priority goal of denying Obama a second term as president, the GOP, led by the no’s of Tea Party conservatives, has opposed every idea, proposal, act of the Obama administration, including those with Republican origins. Even when the act is obviously a good thing — a moral thing — to do.

For example, Obama’s executive order immediately removing the fear of deportation from some 800,000 young people who were brought into this country as children by their immigrant parents. Make no mistake, these young people are Americans in every way but documentation. They have grown up in the United States, gone to our schools, our colleges, served in the military. They work in our businesses. And yet, with the fervor of the GOP anti-immigration campaign growing every day, these young people who call America home lived in fear of being sent back to a “home” they never knew.

Not any longer, thanks to Obama. In a quintessentially American act, the president gave these young people legal status. If they were brought here before age 16, have been here at least five years, are under 30 years old, are in school, have a high school or GED diploma or served in the armed forces, and have no criminal record, they can stay and even apply for work permits.

What was the Republican response to this humanitarian act?

They accused Obama of playing politics.

Really? That’s all of you’ve got? Politics? From a politician? Gosh, guys, you make it sound like a bad word. Just because you’ve been bashing Latinos for two years now during your presidential balloon fight of a primary race, anything positive a Democrat does on immigration is “politics”?

Face it, the GOP has surrendered any right it might have had to a Latino vote with its harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric. So Obama, or any Democrat, would be a fool not to appeal to Latinos. If that be politics, so be it — but this also happens to be good policy and good politicians can marry policy and politics for success.

The pitiful GOP response included a failure by presumptive GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney to answer a simple question — although asked three times on “Face the Nation.” If he disagrees with Obama’s order welcoming these immigrants, would Romney, if elected president, issue an order nullifying it? Yes or no? He never replied. Best he offered is that “events” might supersede the president’s well-motivated move as the Romney administration sought a comprehensive answer to the immigration situation.

Yeah, like Republicans have sought for the past ten years. They have blown up the Dream Act, which was a bipartisan immigration effort, in favor of urging deportation and pretty much nothing else. The thing is, Obama has been deporting illegal immigrants at a record pace. But he has just made nearly a million young people — who did nothing illegal — immune from that threat.

Look, Republicans for the most part are simply ticked off that they have been trumped, politically. They have shown no real interest in a humane immigration policy for this nation of immigrants. They may rail about drug trafficking from Mexico, but for years they had no plan for the thousands of immigrants who streamed in from Mexico just to seek work — often work most Americans didn’t want to do.

Worse, Republicans have become unable or unwilling to simply respond to acts or events for what they are. For example, to say in this case: The president did a good thing here. We applaud him.

Even Marco Rubio, the Florida senator with vice presidential aspirations and an obvious stake in the Latino vote, could not simply praise Obama for his humane gesture without suggesting it would have been better to get Congress involved.

Really, Mario? You know full well that Republicans in Congress scared George W. Bush away from humane immigration reform, which his instincts told him was the right thing to do and which could have been a major accomplishment in his otherwise disastrous presidency. Some Republican wing nuts in Congress are threatening to sue over Obama’s order, behaving as if the president does not have considerable powers of his own, including the power to grant amnesty and immunity from laws, including those on deportation.

Nothing drives a rigid, intolerant, uncompassionate, fearful, selfish person crazier than someone exhibiting a flexible, tolerant, compassionate, hopeful, generous attitude toward the object of their fear. Call it politics if you wish. Others call it basic human decency.

* * *

PS: I like that ending, but I have to add something for any Republicans who might have read this and feel upset or insulted or angry or whatever because they don’t necessarily agree with their party’s response to the president’s decision in this matter. It’s not my problem. If you are a Republican today, for better or worse, you are identified with these views. As I see it, you have three choices: (1) Accept the statements and views of your avowed leaders as they are, in silence; (2) work to bring your party back to a more traditional conservatism, one that still has a heart; or (3) get the heck out. The choice is yours, and that, too, is politics.

 bob@zestoforange.com